In my previous column I made a case for Pakistani expatriates to return to their country for their own benefit and for the benefit of the nation. It was a case based on the entrepreneurial opportunities of a market inundated with countless gaps to fill. While the spirit of the aforementioned proposition was widely appreciated, several doubts – some plausible, others not so much – surfaced to challenge the idea of channeling new investments through the 14 billion USD expatriates send back to Pakistan over the course of a year.

The reviews on the first article were mixed and from the varied feedback it appeared that some nuances of the case were not discussed in necessary depth or detail. For this reason, I will use this space as a continuation of the last piece and to specifically discern the real challenges from the bogus ones.

First and foremost, it would be naïve not to acknowledge that Pakistan is indeed fighting an undeclared war with itself and thousands of deaths occur every year because of this. Lack of security is an issue. It cannot be brushed under the carpet. Innocent lives lost cannot be brought back and the state’s inability to provide justice to the bereaved families only adds to the increasing frustration of our people.

Having said that, it’s important we put things in perspective. From a strictly numbers approach, we are losing far more innocent lives to health issues than to terrorist activities. According to intelligence agencies, in 2013, we had lost 49,000 people to the ‘war on terror’ since 2001 – that’s approximately 4000 casualties every year.

Now I do not wish to discount the trauma or suffering of those who lost loved ones to terrorism but just as we follow acts of violence, it’s equally important, if not more, to note that over 200,000 newborns die on their very first day in Pakistan every year. Furthermore, approximately 250,000 additional innocent children die to water borne diseases every year.

Are these children less important or less innocent than anybody else? If not, why does the state not declare a medical emergency to save their lives? It’s because we apportion these deaths to the will of God and without further investigation we leave the subject aside as though nothing can be done about it. It’s because these children die quietly in their homes, without a blast or an attack or any other kind of spectacle that demands attention. It’s because neonatal demise isn’t exactly breaking news. Bomb blasts, on the other hand, with all the excessive animation and sound effects to elaborate every attack are.

When the whole world talks about the lack of security in Pakistan, it’s easy for us to use that premise as a scapegoat to justify the exodus of bright minds from the country. But then again some cities like Karachi have more than one brand or flavor of violence and the many layers of crime can be overwhelming for any sane person. In contrast, cities like Islamabad and Lahore have seen far less conflict and the collective mindset in these cities may be less nervous than others.

Indeed, we all deal with trauma differently and if getting mugged will scar you for life then perhaps you should find abode elsewhere, in safer, securer pastures. If not, chances are that at some point or another some poor thief will probably rob you so that he can feed his own kids. Unfortunately, if we continue divest from this country, jobs will further diminish and in response crime will most certainly rise. There really is no end to this vicious cycle, unless we check the exodus now.

While the relatively unskilled expatriate ventures abroad for purely monetary benefit, the highly skilled expatriate is also looking for security and an exit strategy if and when the chips are down. Both groups lack the vision to realize how economic prosperity through new investment can reduce crime and gradually begin to solve problems directly stemming from poverty.

Corruption, which is often quoted in drawing room conversations as a deterrent to progress, is a bogus reason to refrain from new business ventures. Everywhere, across the globe, where business and politics overlap, money is siphoned to line greedy pockets. A recent report of the European Commission estimated that the European economy is losing 120 billion Euros to corruption every year and apparently multinationals enjoying tax relief through investments in not-for-profit foundations contribute more towards this amount than the collective sum of corruption attributed to European governments.

If you want to run your business without greasing any wheels, you may have to wait in line a little longer before your efforts come to fruition because you didn’t get that NOC exactly when you thought you would, but your business will not come to a standstill. There are hugely successful entrepreneurs like Syed Babar Ali, Monis Rahman and Muhammad Nawaz Chattha who no-one will point a finger at or question the integrity of. Ask these entrepreneurs about their journey and learn from their vast experience of doing business in a country like Pakistan.

In reality, establishing an unpopular opinion – an idea almost entirely antithetical to populist sentiment – requires more than eight hundred words in a weekly column. It needs legs to move forward; legs only people with significant means and clear intentions are able to provide.

So for those of you who have the time, energy and resources to invest, don’t wait for someone to spoon-feed you with an exhaustive list of opportunities in Pakistan. Take the initiative. Prove the skeptics wrong.

 The writer is a communications consultant based in Lahore.

Email:Khizr.imran@gmail.com